Wednesday, 16 February 2011

adiVERSE virtual footwear wall

The future of retail lies in bringing together the worlds of digital and retail to offer extraordinary in-store customer experiences. Unveiled at the 2011 National Retail Federation Expo in New York, this interactive, real-time rendered product installation for adidas demonstrates UK brand agency Start JudgeGill’s belief in “connected retail.” The experience brings shoppers the products they want, even if they’re not currently available in a store, and gives adidas the opportunity to offer its largest range of products in even its smallest stores. Behind the scenes, the system is currently gender and age-aware and presents relevant products faster; adidas will eventually enhance the shopping experience by placing products in the context of the sport for which they’re designed. Once the success of the adiVERSE system for footwear is tested and demonstrated, there are plans to expand to apparel and accessories, in stores worldwide.

While this is a cool in store experience design concept. I am still wondering that this concept is very similar to web experience of

In store experiences are all about touch and feel and in store social interactions. Customers walk in to Adidas store with bunch of friends and they spend time comparing assortment based on style, color, pattern, texture, price etc. Customers often see stuff online and make purchases in a nearby store. It is good that customers will be able to see all products even when they aren’t available. But can be a bad experience if they like something and not able buy instantly (specially for impulsive buyers)

I believe such digital displays can be a good idea for mobile stores where stores have dummy phones on display.

This installation works well when customer service reps are busy and there’s no one to explain the details. However, most customers typically wear the shoes, walk around a bit to check if it the right one. Maybe, they can use a combination of haptics and Kinect’s technology to give a real feel of the shoe.

Why a person need another interface such as iPad to check out the shoe?

Well, there can be various reasons to do so. One of them can be: In major metros the rental spaces are going sky high, the display is limited and in western countries even the labour is expensive. In such cases, you cannot have all the shoe models out on display in a mall commercial store. So, it is better to give alternative mediums to customers for checking out the collection. One such medium is Ipad, Iphone, or big touch screens as shown in the video.

But then why don’t we integrate later part (iPad) with the initial one (wall)? Suddenly, there is change of experience and person has to wait on the shop keepers to receive the iPad.

Possibly becuase when the person on the video said “now you can checkout” I was thinking OMG checkout on that screen …where world can see all the personal information !!!.

So having the checkout done on a smaller personal display is a clever way to maintain individual’s privacy. I am curious however to understand how they can transition the session from wall to a device like iPad, that is probably beginning of new era in transitioning from one device to another without breaking the flow.

Imagine you are working in office and you are half way through filling your appraisal online…., then you walk to train station and complete the remaining form filling on the phone (same session)…. Later submit it from home computer in the (same session). It is a good a way, to keep the our transactions secured.

Then the other question would be, why the checkout is not happening at the checkout counter?

Well, if we have same session then will it not affect the security, I would imagine that someone could get to the sensitive information. Well, that’s a valid point, But, for us to understand it, let’s go through a small exercise.

Suppose you walk into a shoe store. There is a security guard at the entrance. You go to the display counter and look through the range of shoes on display. When you like a couple of them, you ask the salesman to get the sizes for those particular shoes. You will even like to try out those shoes. Then you zero down on one of the choices, and move towards the payment counter. There the cashier bills you accordingly and you walk out of the store. The security may again check your bills and match it with the purchased items.

Now, we see that there are at least 3 people involved in the whole transaction for one customer. Many stores go away with the security guard. The store that we saw in the video has gone a step ahead and removed the cashier and salesman as well. In effect we have highly reduced the manual intervention, which is highly desirable in high labour cost economies or businesses where ratio of labour cost to purchase cost is high.

I agree upon the point that it would reduce the manual interventions. Here store keeper approaches the customer with an iPad. It do not seem to be a practical to me, to keep a person ready to take iPad to customer.

As discussed before, the experience at the store is to have social interaction through touch and feel.

Being to show rooms of cell phones, I look up those cell phones and I hardly read any information that is printed next to the phone. Instead, I ask the sales representative about the product. And make him compare on the different products that I am interested in. And, I know I might be able to get the relevant information from any other web source. At store, I am getting the experience of interacting with other person, who can somewhat able to relate to me.

I think a retail store is about the personal connection, real experience (look, touch and feel) and also to help buyer make their right decision. For instance – Some time back one of my friends wanted to buy a sports watch (Having features of Altimeter, Barometer, Thermometer, Tide Graph, Heart Beat etc.). He was getting a discount price online but not in the store. So he short-listed some models browsing the online product list, specifications and prices. He also read the reviews of those watches but was not able to finalize the model that he should go for. He was skeptical as the watch was pretty costly and the virtual image differed from the real one (look, touch and feel). Finally he visited the store (Bangalore Central Mall), had a real experience (by trying out, comfort, product aesthetics when he is wearing it, etc.), and talked to the sales representative and zeroed down the final one. After that he confidently placed an order online.

Focus here (Adidas) is to guide and motivate people to purchase by leveraging information of 8,000 pair of shoes (without having to be a flagship store), technical specifications, related videos and user feedback. But the real product display and sales man shouldn’t be replaced with the touch screen. (The salesman helps buyer to try out different shoes, Buyer decides the final one based on the comfort and similar other parameters) Therefore I think creating a virtual experience in a physical store will only help in getting information about the products in a smart way but cannot succeed in the real experience of buying the product by physically going to the store. If that was possible then the consumer need not go to the store and can buy the stuff online itself from home.

Success of a business depends on the end user’s satisfaction after using the product. One of the criterias to satisfy user is to ensure user to use the appropriate and right product for him. Physical store helps and guides user to do this in an effective and simpler way.

- Post is sumamry of email discussion on virtual footwear wall concept. Thanks to all discussion participants - Vallabh, Baizil, Ankush, Jana, Chinmoy and Veena.

1 comment: said...

Thanks for the good news.